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Rush - 2112 CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.11 | 2388 ratings

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4 stars The beginning of the Rush legend. This is the album that most Rush fans heard first, if they were there when the band began (I wasn't, but I heard this album and Moving Pictures at the same time). And it is a classic. The playing is at an absolute best for this type of music, in this period. The band is playing their hard prog style to the absolute limits on the title track. I really can't imagine what else they would have done in this style after this. Keyboards were neccesary to expand...

This album is a classic for two reasons. For many people, it is a classic because of the title track. Some consider this Rush's best song, their best epic, their reason for existence, the song they never topped etc. And then they go "oh yeah, side two is okay." I will say this for the title track: the opening and ending of the song are Rush's best hard prog moments. The way the overture alternates so effortlessly between captivating riff after captivating riff is truly impressive. The band had really gelled and had finally gotten into a style that really suited their abilities. And there's on lyrics during the beginning or the end (well, a few during the end...) which makes it so much more enjoyable for me. And they take up a good five to six minutes of the song, if not more, which puts me in a good mood already. After Geddy intones "and the meek shall inherit the earth..." and the band erupts into that classic riff for the "Temples of Syrnix" section, most Rush fans are in heaven. I'm still enjoying it myself: that vocal melody and riff are absolutely great, one of the best moments in Rush history. So, it's about ten to twelve minutes of very goo music on this song...unfortunately, that goes away. The rest of the track is merely okay. I will say this: I like the way Lifeson fiddles around with his guitar to impersonate somebody slowly learning guitar. And the riff he plays under Geddy's singing is good. But the atmosphere of this section is way too silly, and the lyrics way too pedestrian. In fact, the lyrics in the title track are amongst Neil's worse. For as much as I dislike Ayn Rand, I can't deny the fact that she was a decent writer with some ability to create interesting scenarios, plots, and characterizations. As for Neil Peart...let's just say I'm glad he hasn't given us that novel yet. This whole plot, about solar federations, the banning of music and art, dystopian has been done so often in rock and roll that it's a cliche. The results range from much much better than this song (LIfehouse by the Who) to arguably worse (Killroy Was Here by Styx) but I couldn't imagine a more cliched subject for Neil to tackle. And he does it in his blunt, irritating way. What's worse, is that the band during most of the rest of this section suffers from something that would occasionally plague them latter: pushing the lyrics up front and forgetting about the music. I can't remember any melody or riff after the whole "I found this here guitar" section and the song only gets going again after the narrator commits suicide. This section would only really truly erupt live on stage, but it's still a lot of fun. Except they ruin this even, with the whole "attention all planets from the solar federation" section. So, the song isn't a success as a whole, but at least half of the song is enjoyable. If it was an EP of just this song, I'd give it a three.

However, this album has other songs on it. Five other songs. Sometimes people forget that. And they shouldn't, because these songs help save the album. These songs show the final maturation of Rush as songwriters in this idiom. Side 2 is probably the best side of music that Rush ever made in this early period. In fact, if the band could have maintained this high level of songwriting throughout their career, and had focused solely on this style, they could still have been a popular and interesting band. It is to their credit that they pushed ahead into unknown boundaries as often as they did.

Passage To Bangkok has a great intro riff, and an even better chorus riff. The melodies here are instantly memorable. The band is playing great. It's a great song. The lyrics are about getting stoned...unusual for Peart. So I can definitely dig it.

Twilight Zone has a very strange atmosphere to it. The intro riff isn't as distinct as I'd like, but it's still interesting. The verses seem slightly upbeat, which is kind of weird considering the topic of the song. So I can dig that. And the choruses are extremely downbeat and atmospheric. Again, the band shows a great understanding of dynamic contrasts. The song has good melodies, and the lyrics aren't bad. However, as Mark Prindle said, they really only mention one eerie thing, but they still help set an interesting mood and combined with the melody help make the song very strong.

Lessons. Now we're getting into some controversial territory. It is a song with lyrics written by...Eric Lifeson. Uh oh! No Neil Peart? No Ayn Rand blather? No sci-fi thematics? Whatever shall we Rush fans do? Eh, the lyrics are okay, if indistinct. They don't really create a mood, image, or theme for me, but they don't irritate me either. They sing well, which is sometimes more than you can say for Peart's lyrics. The song itself is another great example of Rush dynamics: the verses sound almost like a typical soft rock or folk song. "Sweet memories..." Tell me you can't hear James Taylor singing something like that? But then, the pre-chorus comes in, and the rock guitars enter and Geddy's singing gets more strident. Then the chorus comes in, and the riff is different, and equally memorable, and the melody is solid and interesting. In fact, this might be the best song on the album...maybe. At least musically. It's definitely better lyrically than 2112 in that it's not embarassing or stupid.

The next song is Tears which is another controversial song. It was written by Geddy, and is a ballad. This is one of the rare Rush ballads that works for me. It has a great melody, and the music is lush enough to make it pretty. The mellotron definitely helps here. The lyrics are nothing to write home about, but they're not completely banal.

Neil comes back lyrically with Something For Nothing which is a great album closer. More great riffs and melodies, more dynamic contrasts, and a drive and force that almost matches the overture in the 2112 suite. The lyrics are typical Peart, but not awful. In fact, besides the 2112 lyrics, Neil doesn't really embarass himself here. He's getting better. In fact, this is the first album by the band that can be considered a solid consistent album, that is great all the way from the beginning to the end...except for ten minutes of the 2112 suite. In fact, if the band had made those ten minutes better, this would be a solid five stars. However, it's not a masterpiece. It's simply their best hard prog album, hands down. After this, they had nowhere else to go in that idiom, and instead of repeating the album, they tried to branch out with keyboards, and move into a more progressive direction, which is laudable. But the results may not have been...

SonicDeath10 | 4/5 |


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